Nobody likes waiting in line at the bank, and even if you're patient enough to cope with the long line at the teller's window bank hours aren't the most convenient. Online banking allows you control of your money from anywhere with an Internet connection, even your smartphone, but how hard is it to get started, and is your money really safe? We'll take a look at the ins and outs of online checking accounts and find out.
Online banks allow you to manage your money from any computer with an Internet connection and often via your smartphone, offering services like paying bills, transfers, and sometimes even ATM fee reimbursement. You can set up your online checking account either through a brick and mortar bank or an online-only bank. Most traditional banks also offer online banking features tied to a regular checking account, so that you can access your money at a branch, an ATM, or online.
Online checking accounts are gaining popularity as consumers become more comfortable with doing things on the Internet. In fact, an American Bankers Association survey showed that 62 percent of people preferred banking online more than any other method, up from 36 percent the year before [source: American Bankers Association]. Online-only banking is also on the rise [source: Todorova].
Online checking accounts offer ready access to your money. They are easy to set up, though some people do have concerns about dealing with online banking, particularly in the area of security. Others are not comfortable with computers and prefer doing their banking in person, via the ATM or through telephone customer service. Let's take a look at online checking accounts and see how you set one up, what features they offer, and how to securely manage your money in an online environment.